MS Dhoni on India's 2007 World Cup debacle: We were perceived as murderers, terrorists
New York: He wanted his biopic to show his journey, the inherent struggles in "decision making processes" rather than "glorify him" and that's precisely what Mahendra Singh Dhoni told the film's director Neeraj Pandey during the conceptual phase of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.
In the US along with wife Sakshi and producer Arun Pandey (whose firm manages Dhoni) to promote his film, which is due to release worldwide on 30 September, Dhoni spoke about his life and the transformation from a talented small town boy to one of India's most respected captains.
"One thing I told Pandey (director Neeraj) is that this movie should not be to glorify me. It's about the journey of a professional sportsperson and that's what it should depict," Dhoni told reporters during a promotional event for the film.
Being a person who likes to live in the present, it was "difficult" for him to go back into his life and narrate his story to Pandey for the movie.
He said the first time he saw the movie, an unedited version, he relived his past again as memories of his childhood, where he lived and how he played flooded his mind.
"All those things that had happened became fresh in my memory — from where I lived, how my school was, where we played. I went blank," said Dhoni, who normally does not show much emotion on the field.
"It was nice to be in the past for a moment and you get a view of what others think about me. I have never talked to my parents about cricket and it was nice to get a glimpse of what they really thought about me," he said.
When asked if he was worried about how the world will perceive him as a human being and cricketer after seeing the movie, he replied in the negative. "I was a little worried when initially the concept of the movie came but once we were in, I was not worried about it as I was just narrating my side of the story," he said.
Dhoni also shared moments from his cricketing life that had a huge impact on him.
He said the World Cup loss of 2007 and the ensuing reactions against him and the team had a big impact on him and to some extent that experience "was a big turning point in my life".
He said in India when a team loses a cricket match, they are perceived as people who "have committed a crime or are murderers or terrorists."
He recalled the harrowing time when the team had returned home after making an exit in the first round of the 2007 edition. People pelted stones at Dhoni's residence.
Dhoni admitted that his captaincy is more about gut feeling as it comes from the experiences of his life: "Gut feeling is all about the experiences that you have had in your life. It is about being in difficult scenarios, knowing what worked, what did not work and then taking a decision."
Asked if he could have played the character himself, Dhoni smiled and said that acting is "very difficult job which should be left to the actors, who know what to do".
He said working as a TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) at Kharagpur railway station (in Bengal) toughened him up and made him a better person.
When asked about his autobiography, Dhoni said it takes more effort to write a book and it will take time to do that. "A book will take its time. The concept of a book was actually before the movie but it needs a bit more effort. The book will be more elaborate."
Dhoni described film's hero Sushant Singh Rajput as a "fantastic actor", who has worked very hard for the film and
is now one of the better cricketers in all the celebrities cricket leagues that are happening. He said Rajput wanted to know Dhoni's thinking and frame of mind when he plays cricket. "It was difficult because there are a lot of things can't tell him because I'm still playing active cricket and captaining the (limited overs) team," he said.
Dhoni said that a combination of proper infrastructure and guidance along with passion can help India in becoming a "sporting nation".
"What we have seen is that sports is definitely developing in India. I can see a lot of positive things happening in India. It may take a bit more time but with proper guidance and people having passion for sports, I don't think we are far away from becoming a good sporting nation," Dhoni said.
He stressed that there are no short-term results in sports and a nation will have to make sustained investments in
developing infrastructure and providing an enabling environment for sports if it has to get more medals in Olympics and perform well in world tournaments.
"After one Olympics, if we invest in sports and say we will get a gold medal in the next Olympic, it doesn't work
like that in sports. How it works is that you provide the infrastructure, provide education about nutrition and health. Once the athletes have all these things at their disposal over a period of time, the nation will develop as a sporting nation. That is very crucial," he said.
Dhoni said merely ploughing money into sports does not translate into medals for the country and investment is
needed over a period of time in the form of parents and schools encouraging children to take up sports.
"I think it is very important for parents and schools to push (their children) for sports and promote sports. That
is how you will bring medals when its comes to games such as the Olympics. Money doesn't directly get you medals. (Sports) cannot be result oriented alone, you have to work over a period of time and educate people," he concluded.